Debate over the Money Supply Expand greenback (soft money) –Expectant capitalists, debtors, farmer –Why? Borrow $$ at lower interest rates Pay off loans faster and easier w/ inflated dollars Increase prices for commodities they produced Panic of 1873 –Many suspected gold-backed restricted currency at fault
Debate over the Money Supply Against –Bankers, capitalists, creditors, investors (gold-backed) –Why? Allow currency to hold its value Increase value of gold as population expanded They won –(1875) Specie Resumption Act Greenback Party
The Silver Issue “ Crime of ’ 73 ” demonetization of silver (govt. stopped coining silver). Bland-Allison Act (1878) limited silver coinage to $2-$4 mil. per mo. (based on the 16:1 ratio of silver to gold). Sherman Silver Purchase Act (1890) The US Treasury must purchase $4.5 mil. oz. of silver a month. Govt. deposited most silver in the US Treasury rather than circulation.
The Farmers’ Discontent Independence and self sufficiency “Those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God.” At the whim of uncontrollable forces Global economy Victim of own success
Price Indexes for Consumer & Farm Products: 1865-1913
Forces/Factors that Hurt the Farmer Grain elevator operator rates Manufacturers high prices Crop-lien system Banks increased interest rates High prices for machinery High Railroad rates
Founder of the National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry (1867)
The Grange Movement First organized in the 1870s in the Midwest, the south, and Texas. Set up cooperative associations. Social and educational components. Succeeded in lobbying for “ Granger Laws. ” Rapidly declined by the late 1870s.
Supreme Court Decisions Munn vs. Illinois (1877) Wabash, St. Louis, & Pacific Railroad Company vs. Illinois (1886)
The Farmers Alliances Begun in the 1880s (Texas first the Southern Alliance; then in the Midwest the Northern Alliance). Built upon the ashes of the Grange. More political and less social than the Grange. Ran candidates for office. Controlled 8 state legislatures & had 47 representatives in Congress during the 1890s.
United We Stand, Divided We Fall In 1889 both the Northern and Southern Alliances merged into one—the Farmers ’ Alliance.
The Populist (Peoples’) Party 1890 Bi-Election: 1890 Bi-Election: So. Alliance wanted to gain control of the Democratic Party. No. Alliance ran 3 rd Party candidates. 1892 800 met in St. Louis, MO majority were Alliance members. over 100 were African Americans. reps. of labor organizations & other reformers (Grange, Greenback Party).
Formed to relieve economic pressure on agriculture Restore democracy by eliminating what Populists saw as the corrupt & corrupting alliance b/w business and government. The Populist (Peoples’) Party “Farmers should raise less corn and more hell.” Mary Elizabeth Lease
Who were the Populists? Small farmers –Midwest: family farms –South: modest landowners, sharecroppers, tenants Culturally marginalized Failed to attract labor –Exceptions Miners African Americans
Omaha Platform of 1892 1. System of “ sub-treasuries. ” 2. Graduated income tax 3. Direct election of Senators. 4. Govt. ownership of RRs, telephone & telegraph companies. 5. Government-operated postal savings banks. 6. Restriction of immigration. 7. 8-hour work day for government employees. 8. Private detective agencies shouldn’t be used to end strikes. 9. secret ballot. 10. Re-monitization of silver. 11. A single term for President & Vice President.
The Populist (Peoples’) Party Founded by James B. Weaver and Tom Watson. Omaha, NE Convention in July, 1892. Got almost 1 million popular votes. Several Congressional seats won. James B. Weaver, Presidential Candidate & James G. Field, VP
Race and Populism Farmers nationwide are “all in the same ditch”… Liberal minded reformers like Tom Watson urged unified efforts at reforming the system.
Thomas E. Watson "You are made to hate each other because on that hatred is rested the keystone of the arch of financial despotism which enslaves you both. You are deceived and blinded because you do not see how this race antagonism perpetuates a monetary system that beggars you both. The colored tenant is in the same boat as the white tenant, the colored laborer with the white laborer and that the accident of color can make no difference in the interests of farmers, croppers and laborers."
Causes of the 1893 Panic Begun 10 days after Cleveland took office. 1. Several major corps. went bankrupt. Over 16,000 businesses disappeared. Triggered a stock market crash. Over-extended investments. 2. Bank failures followed causing a contraction of credit [nearly 500 banks closed]. 3. By 1895, unemployment reached 3 million. Americans cried out for relief, but the Govt. continued its laissez faire policies!!
Written by a Farmer at the End of the 19c When the banker says he's broke And the merchant ’ s merchant ’ s up in smoke, They forget that it's the farmer who feeds them all. It would put them to the test If the farmer took a rest; Then they'd know that it's the farmer feeds them all.
Coxey’s Army, 1894 Jacob Coxey & his “ Army of the Commonweal of Christ. ” March on Washington “ hayseed socialists! ”
William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925) The “Great Commoner ”
William Jennings Bryan Prairie avenger, mountain lion, Bryan, Bryan, Bryan, Bryan, Gigantic troubadour, speaking like a siege gun, Smashing Plymouth Rock with his boulders from the West. Revivalist style of oratory.
“ They tell us that the great cities are in favor of the gold standard. We reply that our great cities rest upon our broad and great prairies ”.
“ Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic; but destroy our farms, and the grass will grow in the streets of every city of the country ”.
“ You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns; you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold ”
Why Did Bryan Lose? His focus on silver undermined efforts to build bridges to urban voters. He did not form alliances with other groups. McKinley ’ s campaign was well- organized and highly funded.
Gold Triumphs Over Silver 1900 Gold Standard Act confirmed the nation ’ s commitment to the gold standard. A victory for the forces of conservatism.
Why Did Populism Decline? 1. The economy experienced rapid change. 2. The era of small producers and farmers was fading away. 3. Race divided the Populist Party, especially in the South. 4. The Populists were not able to break existing party loyalties. 5. Most of their agenda was co-opted by the Democratic Party.